I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~ John Muir, 1913
Featured Events

Maple Sirup Experience Programs

ALL programs are FULL

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Program Registration

Some programs below require advanced registration and payment. Space is limited.
Classes could be cancelled if minimum enrollment is not met by the registration deadline.
Please contact us at 309-874-2174 or email register@sugargrovenaturecenter.org
for more information or to check availability after the registration deadline.

2 Simple Ways to Register for Programs:

1. ONLINE by clicking the program title
2. BY MAIL using this form 

Programs for Kids

Boy Scout Bird Study Merit Badge
Saturday, April 29; 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
This program is for Boy Scouts and leaders ONLY. No non-scouts or siblings please.
By participating in this program, scouts will complete all of the necessary objectives to earn their Bird Study Merit Badge and go home amateur ornithologists. Participants will learn the importance of bird study, how to identify birds by sight and sound, use binoculars and field guides, and how to attract birds to their yard. Please brin g binoculars and a bird field guide if you have them. If not, we have both to loan. A snack and project supplies and resources are included in the price. Scouts are responsible for obtaining the badge. Open to troops and individual scouts. Space is limited.
Fee: $15/scout, $5/leader.
Registration and payment required by April 15

Little Wonders

Ages 3-5 (and an adult chaperone)
Wednesdays, 10:00-11:30 a.m. or 1:00-2:30 p.m.
March 15: Rainbows
Kids and their adult chaperones will discover the wonders of nature in these hands-on, interactive classes.  A snack will accompany story time and a fun craft will be created.
Fee: $5/child members, $8/child non-members with an adult chaperone. 
Registration and prepayment required by the Sunday before the program

Winter Wilderness Camp CLASS IS FULL!
Ages 6-12: Wednesday, December 28; 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Don’t spend your entire winter break inside!  Take part in team building exercises while hiking the trails, meet with a buckskinner, and much more!  A lunch of hot dogs over the campfire and chicken noodle soup will be served
Fee: $10/child members, $14/child non-members. 
Registration and payment required by Dec. 21
.  Dress for the weather!

Tiny Melodies Gone Wild in the Winter January Class Canceled
Birth to age 4; Wednesdays, January 11, February 8, & March 8, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Tiny Melodies: Gone Wild, is an interactive Family Music Making Experience! Children AND their caregivers will join Meryl Brown, Board Certified Music Therapist, in a variety of music-making opportunities including, but not limited to, instrument playing, singing, movement, and storytelling. Each of these experiences will bring participants into nature as we discover the wonders of winter! For more information please visit www.developingmelodies.com
Fee: $10/child member; $15/child non-members with an adult chaperone.
Registration and payment required one week prior to each program

Little Tappers FULL
Wednesday, February 15; 10:00-11:30 a.m. or 1:00-2:30 p.m. Registration required by February 12
Saturday, February 25 10:00-11:30 a.m. Registration required by February 22
This program is designed especially for children 3-5 years with an adult chaperone. We will sing songs and make a craft while learning how to make maple sirup and listen to a fabulous sirup story. Then, each child will get a turn at tree tapping and to taste the real thing!
Fee: $5/child members, $8/child non-members.

Scouts and Youth Group Sirup Experience FULL
Saturday, February 25; 1:00-3:30 p.m.
Attention, leaders of scout troops, 4H, and other youth organizations! Your group is invited to join in on the maple sirup fun! Learn how sap from the maple tree becomes sirup, and take part in the process from tree tapping to tasting! When registering, be sure to gather participant numbers for your entire group so that no one is left out of this experience!
Fee: $7/children, $5/adults.  Registration and payment required by February 10.

Homeschool Sirup Field Trips FULL
Tuesdays, February 21, 22, and 28, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Homeschoolers of all ages can participate in the Maple Sirup Experience on days set aside especially for them! This program fills quickly, so get your registration in soon!
Fee: $7/student (ages 3 and up), $5/teacher or chaperone
To register online, click HERE

To register by mail, click HERE and mail in your completed form with payment
Registration form and fees must be received by February 10, 2017.

The Art of Animals at Miller Park Zoo
Monday, January 16: Birds; 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Monday, February 20: Snakes; 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Ages: 10-18
-Science meets art in this unique collaboration by Miller Park Zoo and Sugar Grove Nature Center led by Jill Wallace.  Participants will meet some animals and study their physical characteristics, then use this information in sketching a few subjects. We’ll create a colored pencil drawing to take home. All art material will be provided, please bring a lunch.  Class will take place at Miller Park Zoo.
Fee: $20 per session/member; $25 per session/non-member (Nature Center or Zoo). 
Registration and prepayment required.

Programs for All Ages

Family Nature Exploration Day
Saturdays, January 7 & February 4; 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
(There will be no March Family Nature Exploration Day due to our Maple Sirup Experience Tours. 
Bring your family out at any time throughout the day.  Create a fun make-and-take craft, take a guided hike at 11:00 a.m., and don’t miss the feeding of the turtles, snakes, and other critters at 1:00 p.m. 
Free.  No registration required.

ABC Runners: Winter Wonderland Run
Sunday, January 15, 9:00 a.m. (Doors open at 8:30)
Come out to enjoy a winter wonderland by running, walking, snow-shoeing, or cross-country skiing in this event coordinated by the ABC Runners (Adventures Benefitting Children). Beverages and snacks will be provided. Bring something to share if you wish. Set out on a 7 mile loop course on roads or a 5 mile trail run. Runners of various paces attend and distances can be modified.  This event is free, with the opportunity for a free-will donation to Sugar Grove Nature Center’s children’s environmental education programs.
There is no fee, but donations in any amount are encouraged. Funds collected will benefit Sugar Grove Nature Center. No registration required.

Acoustic Irish Music Jam Session and Blacksmith Demonstration
Saturdays, January 21, February 18,  Acoustic musicians of all levels are invited    to join an Irish-music jam session!  Bring your instrument or just enjoy the music! For more details, email mtyner@iwu.edu.  The public is also invited to watch members of the Illinois Valley Blacksmiths Association as they work at the Forge across from the Nature Center parking lot.    
Free.  No registration required

Tuesday Night Trail Runs
Every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. from March 14th through October 24th, 2017
Sugar Grove Nature Center in Funks Grove invites you to venture out to enjoy the trails or roads on Tuesday evenings.  The usual trail route is 5 miles, and is well marked.  Easy-to-follow road routes of 4 or 7 miles are also an option.  Don’t miss the post run party in the corn crib!  Refuel and refresh while socializing with others.  Snacks and water are provided, and you are encouraged to bring other beverages.  Make it an adventure to look forward to each week! 
Fee: Free, donations appreciated. No registration required.

Campfire & S’mores Program: In Search of the Timberdoodle
Saturday, March 18, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
 Also called the woodcock, the male bird can be seen in early spring spiraling into the sky then plummeting downward, hoping to impress the ladies!  After hearing their story, we’ll head outside where we will hopefully be able to spot them, then enjoy s’mores around the fire!  If you like, bring a lawn chair or blanket for woodcock watching.
Fee: Free/members; $5/person non-members.  Registration and payment required by March 15.

Twin City Amateur Astronomers Public Viewing Sessions: Orion & Company
Saturday, March 25; 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Don’t miss the first Viewing Session of 2017!  A 20-30 minute presentation on the featured topic will be followed by a sky tour using a laser pointer and telescope observing.  Programs will be held even in the event of an overcast sky, but active rain will cause a cancellation of the event.  When uncertain if a session has been cancelled, check for updates on Facebook (Twin City Amateur Astronomers - TCAA) or twitter (@tc_astro).  For more information, visit www.tcaa.us.

Maple Sirup Experience Tours
Saturday, March 4th, 2017
2-1/2 Hour tours begin at 9:30 a.m., 12:00, & 2:30 p.m.
Gather around the fire at the sirup camp to learn how the Native Americans and early settlers collected and prepared sap. Visit the sugar shack where the smell of maple sirup hangs in the air. Journey into the sugarbush to tap a tree. Stop inside the Nature Center to sample a variety of sweet treats made with maple sirup including candy, cookies, fudge, salads, and more! Dress for the weather, as you will be outside for a major portion of the program. Experience an important part of Funks Grove heritage!
Fee: Members $5/adults, $3/children (16 & under), Non-members $7/adults, $5/children. 
Registration and payment required by February 10, 2017. 

Programs for Adults

Happy Trails Hikes
Second Thursday of the Month at 10:00 a.m.
January 12; February 9; March 9
, 2017
This adults-only hike will go on and off trail, in search of any and all things of interest. Show up with a good pair of hiking shoes and a sense of adventure!
Free; no registration required.

Winter Backyard Bird Watching Basics & Lunch

Friday, January 13, 2017
10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Winter brings many new birds to our backyards! Not sure what birds are visiting your feeders or need a refresher? Learn how to identify more than 30 winter residents and how to attract them, as well as how you can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count in February.  After the program fill a bowl with chili or soup and cuddle up in the Bird Viewing Room to practice your identification skills while you enjoy lunch!  Take home resources and win prizes too!
Fee: $10/members, $15/non-members.  Registration and payment required by January 10.

Macro Photography, Animal Portraits

Saturday, January 14; 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Ages 16+, younger by permission only
Photographer John Tobias will guide you through the use of your camera’s close-up feature or macro lens using the Nature Center Education Animals as models!  Capture the essence of turtles, snakes, and more.  Bring a digital camera with a close-up mode or macro lens, fully charged batteries (or extra batteries), and a memory card that can hold up to 100 images.  No cell phone cameras, please.
Fee: $25/members, $30/non-members.  Registration and payment required by January 6.

Tree and Shrub Pruning Workshops
Saturday, January 21 or Wednesday, January 25, 2017
10:00 a.m .- noon

Join Trees Forever's Certified Arborist Debbie Fluegel to learn how, when, and why to prune. She will share basic pruning techniques to keep your trees and shrubs growing strong and looking great! The class will also include a hands-on demonstration outside. Participants are asked to dress for the weather and bring hand pruners and hand saws, if they have them.
Fee: $10/members; $15/non-members. Registration and payment required by January 13.

Chainsaw Training; Level 1: Chainsaw Safety and Directional Felling
Friday, February 17th, 2017
8:00 a.m .- 5:00 p.m.
Join Jay Hayek, an Extension forestry specialist in the Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences at the Univ. of Illinois, to learn all about the safe operation of gas-powered chainsaws. Many topics will be discussed including safety and personal protective equipment, saw operation and safety features, body mechanics, safe starting procedures, cutter tooth parts, baic saw maintenace, chain filing, saw reactive forces, and much more! Participants will also be introduced to basic directional felling techniques and basic binds: Compression, tension, and spring poles. All participants are required to use the cutting and felling methods shown by the instructor.
Fee: $40/Sugar Grove Nature Center Members; $50/non-members (no refunds for no-shows)
Space is limited to 10 participants.  Registration and payment are required by February 10.
To register online click HERE

A Toast to Nature: Woodcocks & Wine
Wednesday, March 22, 6:30 p.m.
You must be at least 21 years old to attend this program.

These ground-nesting birds exhibit one of the most delightful courtship flights just before dawn and at dusk. Join us to learn more about this fascinating game bird that returns to fields, prairies, and pastures throughout central Illinois in mid-March.  Head outside to (hopefully) spot them as they spiral toward the sky and fall to the ground. Bring your lawn chair, wine glass, and favorite wine. We’ll also have some wines to sample from local wineries.
Fee: $10/members, $12/non-members.  Registration & payment required by March 15.